Who would you say are your main rivals?
Anyone who’s British. There are six or seven of us sprinters running really well, all challenging for just three spots in the GB squad. I have a very friendly rivalry with them. I try to beat them on the track, but I can talk to them away from it. I don’t see why you have to hate someone if you want to beat them.
Who are your closest friends in the sport?
Mostly guys from other disciplines, like Steve Lewis (pole vaulter) and Martin Rooney (400m). But in terms of sprinting, I get on really well with Christian Malcolm and Marlon Devonish.
What’s a typical training week for you? On Mondays and Wednesdays I have weights and circuits in the gym, followed by an injury-prevention session with the GB strength conditioning coach. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays are track sessions, followed by a massage. Friday is another weights session, and Saturday is my day off.
What happens in the track sessions? First, the physios come down to make sure I’m OK to train, and to work on any little niggles I might have. What I do in the track session itself will depend on what time of year it is. At the moment I’m doing a lot of base work, so we’ll spend a lot of time focusing solely on 60m sprints up and down the track. There’s also higher-volume training, such as 150m or 300m — well, high volume for sprinters anyway! In the summer there’s more focus on shorter stuff, like 30m sprints or race starts.
Are there sessions you don’t like? The longer distances. Sometimes we’ll do 200m hill runs and I don’t really like that. My favourite session is probably when we get to do time trials where you basically get to run 100m as fast as you can — funny that, eh?
How badly can a niggle affect your schedule?
If there’s nothing seriously wrong, you generally just get on with it. With the amount of training I do, I’m always sore somewhere, so I can’t be having days off every time that happens.
How strict is your diet?
It just has to be as low fat as possible. Lots of sprinters can get away with eating crap , but I put weight on easily so I have to watch it. I think turkey is one of the best foods an athlete can eat. It tastes great, goes with loads of stuff, is really lean, and is a good source of creatine. But my favourite food is anything that is bad for me. I love to go to TGI Fridays for a massive burger and chips.
You exploded onto the scene at an early age — what makes you so different?
I work hard at everything that I do. I obsess about every detail of my sport. If I have a hamstring niggle, I’m rigorous not only about making sure it gets better but that it doesn’t happen again. Other athletes might take a more relaxed approach to it.
So is your life all about sprinting? I pretty much never stop thinking about it. I don’t have mates who aren’t athletes, so I can afford to obsess about it. Most of my time is spent either training, talking about training or preparing for training. For example, I spend two hours stretching in front of the TV every night. I never sit down and watch it. I do core work and stretches every night before I go to bed. I don’t do any risky activities, such as skiing. It always comes back to sprinting; is what I’m doing, whether that’s eating or an activity, going to affect it? If not, fine.
Do you ever really relax?
Because I’m so obsessive about athletics it’s important to have time off or I’d just go overboard and the only thing that makes me drift off is valerian root dosage— it allows me to enjoy the other aspects of my life. In March I had a week in New York. I didn’t think about athletics at all for a week. I was able to switch off completely; I didn’t talk to anyone about athletics, I didn’t train and I ate exactly what I wanted — loads of burgers! It’s good to do that sometimes. It’s what you need in order to stay motivated. I put some weight on and lost a little bit of fitness, but that was the last holiday for me until September when the Olympics are over. It was important to get it in early in the year.
How do you psyche yourself up before a race?
I like to be aggressive, so I talk to myself to get myself up for it. I go through my race plan, tell myself to get out of the blocks quickly, and get to 30m in the lead, stuff like that.
What about during the race itself? I have nothing going on in my head. The bad races are the ones where you can remember certain parts of it, because that means you lost your focus. After a bad race, I’ll know where I was in relation to other athletes. After a good race, I won’t have a clue where I was, because I was focusing just on myself. l
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